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One License and multiple PCs, how does it work?

I know for previous versions of Windows, you were allowed to install the same key onto 3 different computers. Is this the same with Windows 7?

  • Isn't it kind of the same question? superuser.com/questions/74835/…
    – Malabarba
    Dec 15, 2009 at 0:33
  • You might be thinking of the Family Pack for Vista and Windows 7. You could install it on up to three computers with these editions. Unfortunately, I believe both have been discontinued, Windows 7 just recently.
    – Nathaniel
    Dec 15, 2009 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


Windows OEM - One machine and dies with that machine. Windows Upgrade - Upgrades a single copy of Windows to the latest version. Windows Fully packaged Product - Only one machine, but can be moved to another machine (can only be installed at one place at any one time). Windows 7 Family Pack - 3 licences for different computers at any one time.

Windows Activation is designed to stop pirates from installing on hundreds of computers, if you just install it on a couple of machines, it will work - and if you hit the limit, then ring them up, they usually authorise it HOWEVER it doesn't mean it is legal to break the limits just because it works.

  • Actually, you can move an OEM licence too. Just don’t resell it.
    – kinokijuf
    Jan 5, 2013 at 21:29
  • @kinokijuf No, you can't! Jan 6, 2013 at 12:44
  • I’ve done it many times. It successfully activates and validates as lpng as you’re not using it on more than one PC at once.
    – kinokijuf
    Jan 6, 2013 at 14:47
  • @kinokijuf - you are talking about Fully Packaged Product where you are allowed to use it on more than one PC.... OEM is only allowed on one machine and the license dies with the machine - just because it works, doesn't mean that you are legally allowed to. Jan 6, 2013 at 18:42
  • No, with FPP you can still only use it on one computer at a time. The activation works the same for FPP and OEM in fact.
    – kinokijuf
    Jan 6, 2013 at 20:46

There has never been a general "3 computers per license" rule for Windows. Consumer licenses are one computer to one license (at a time). If the license is non-OEM, it's transferable to a new system if it's removed from the old system.

So, to answer your question, Windows 7 operates in the same fashion: one system per consumer license.

  • 1
    Interestingly, you can run 4 virtual instances on the same computer with one (Ultimate) license, serverfault.com/questions/53409.
    – hyperslug
    Dec 15, 2009 at 0:16
  • Virtual machines are not that simple. It might be that windows 7 recognizes the motherboard as being the same, even though it's in a VM, and thus it still counts as the same computer.
    – Malabarba
    Dec 15, 2009 at 0:32
  • Or, I could have clicked your link and read the post =P. Seems it's actually designed to be able to run 4 VMs. Wonder if they actually count... :-)
    – Malabarba
    Dec 15, 2009 at 0:35
  • By definition, a VM CANNOT know what sort of machine it's running on. It may be possible to detect it IS in a VM, or at least make a good guess.
    – Phoshi
    Dec 16, 2009 at 19:50

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